Healthy Communication at Home
By Mirel Rodriguez
Many parents may feel trapped or even lost in a negative pattern when trying to relate to their kids. There is this endless cycle of what seems to be the same arguments week after week, leaving everyone in the family frustrated with each other. When facing those arguments, you often find yourself making mistakes like blaming one another, shaming, or dictating rules without conversing with each other. How do parents manage to teach their children to communicate properly? Is there a method for each child or do they teach their children the same way? If so, where do those parents get their methods of communication?
First of all, what does communication mean? Communication means the imparting or exchanging of information or news. Without communication, you wouldn’t be able to influence relationships in families, children, friends, and at work. Good communication helps build relationships during good times, and mend relationships in difficult times. According to Children & Parenting: Communication, nonverbal body language can make up as much as 55% of what we communicate, our tone and voice make up 38%, and the remaining 7% is made up of the words we say that get across. Family members need to practice positive communication. You need to teach yourself how to be respectful, open, honest, straightforward, and kind.
There are four known types of communication. The first one is clear and direct communication, and it is the most healthy form of communicating. It happens when the message is directed to the right family member and is understood between both parties. For example, my mom gets disappointed at the fact that I didn’t do my chores, and tells me, “I’m disappointed that you forgot to take out the trash without me having to remind you”. Clear and indirect communication is the second form. The message is clear, but it is not aimed at the correct person. Masked and direct communication is when the message you said was unclear, but was directed towards the correct person. In unhealthy households, the most common form of communication is masked and indirect communication, and it is when both the message and the person it was intended for are unclear.
The quality of parents’ communication ultimately determines the success of their parenting and the happiness of their children.
The quality of parents’ communication ultimately determines the success of their parenting and the happiness of their children. A way of improving family relationships is to have a healthy communication system. The three essentials for family communication are behavior, language, and listening skills. Parents need to demonstrate to their children what good behavior looks like. For example, when parents disrespect one another or their children, they’re training their children to disrespect them, as well as their siblings, peers, or teachers. It is not acceptable for family members to verbally abuse each other. According to Psychology Today, “Crude or hurtful language damages children’s fragile egos, and undermines their self-esteem.” That being said, avoid using language that is degrading or discouraging. Listening is curative. Children that grow with parents that are engaged listeners develop a positive sense of self and trust in their parents. When you grow up with parents who are poor listeners, those children are more likely to grow up feeling depressed, or anxious. It is important to pay close attention to behavior, language, and how you listen to others.
As previously mentioned, parents need to keep an eye out for their kids’ behavior, language, and how they actively listen. When setting out to change your family’s culture of communication, you need to understand it will take some time to do so. There will be four areas on which to focus, which include parental unity, family meetings, positive reinforcement, and having healthy family activities. Before making a decision, discuss with your spouse before including your kids and make sure you work out any conflicts between each other, avoid making executive decisions and work as a family. Family meetings should establish family rules and routines, but they should be held when everyone is well-rested and calm, rather than being worked up. The last thing is positive reinforcement. Parents tend to be too critical and ignore their kid’s improvement in behavior. Praise your kids’ positive choices occasionally. A simple acknowledgment such as, “ I like how you said that” or “ I appreciate you telling me that,” reinforces them.
Overall, communication is important in both our personal and work lives. Communication is like a key to life. Without it, you won’t be able to accomplish very much during your lifetime. You need to be patient, mindful, and thoughtful when you communicate with others because you don’t want to end up hurting yourself or others around you. You’ll have to confront your own emotional immaturities to break free of negative communication patterns. As time goes by, you will learn how to be patient, mindful, and thoughtful. It will be a challenge to take on, but, when you take charge, your children will follow.